Photo Series Follows Triplets' Incredible Journey From The NICU To Their First Birthday

"We all look back at these and are in totally awe."

While most every parent likes to document their child's growth and milestones with pictures, for parents of premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), photos can be especially meaningful. These images can bring joy during trying times and allow families to reflect on all the ways they've overcome hardships.

One tender photo series captures triplets Aubrey, Bailey, and Charlotte Ochenkowski from their time in the NICU to celebrating their one-year milestone.

HuffPost reports that parents Tom and Jackie Ochenkowski learned they were expecting the spontaneous identical triplets (those conceived without the use of fertility drugs) at their eight-week ultrasound after already having one daughter. It was considered a high risk pregnancy as Jackie had two amniotic sacs and one placenta, so she was admitted to the hospital at 25 weeks.

On May 18, 2016, Jackie gave birth at 32 weeks to the triplets via C-section. Each baby weighed only three pounds and they were admitted to the NICU.

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Courtesy of JoAnn Marrero, From Labor to Love 

It was during the triplets' two to three month stay in the NICU that the parents met From Labor to Love photographer JoAnn Marrero. The Connecticut birth and newborn photographer explained to A Plus via email that she volunteers at the Yale New Haven NICU on a bi-weekly basis. She photographs all the babies free of charge as part of the hospital's volunteer program. She happened to be there the first time Jackie got to hold all three babies and photographed her during her stay a few other times.

Courtesy of JoAnn Marrero, From Labor to Love 

Jackie then asked Marrero to photograph the triplets on their one year-milestone, which they celebrated with a cake smash. 

Reflecting on the photos, Merrero writes, "We all look back at these and are in totally awe of the girls and how far they have come!"

Courtesy of JoAnn Marrero, From Labor to Love 

She continues, "The NICU can be a very scary place and Jackie expressed that having me there, documenting their stay, made it feel normal."

Courtesy of JoAnn Marrero, From Labor to Love 

She reveals that she and the Ochenkowskis didn't initially have a goal in mind when they were creating the photos. They just wanted to capture as much as they could so they could see how far the family has come.

Marrero added, "I know that Jackie loves to share their story as she too had sought out information on triplets to give herself hope that all would be OK with the girls."

Courtesy of JoAnn Marrero, From Labor to Love 

Marrero hopes that people viewing the series will see that all three babies are smart, supper funny, and have such individual personalities.

Scroll down to see the the triplets' cake smash video:

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